Last week I released my first “plot guide” – Save the Galaxy, a supplement for Galactic 2e. This post will explore the design space of plot guides and why I’d love to see more of them.
When it comes to storytelling games, I love to weave fast paced plots that reach satisfying conclusions. This is especially true for single-session games where it can be fun to race through key story beats and wrap things up neatly by the end of play.
I’ve found that many games out there have phenomenal support for character creation and arcs, worldbuilding, and individual story beats yet have little to say when it comes to overarching plot.
When there’s a lack of plot support, there’s a risk that the story will meander and players won’t be sure exactly how to push the story forward. Sessions might end with the story just petering out. This is especially true for novice players who might also be focused on learning the rules.
First caveat – there’s no wrong way to play! I’ve played in wonderful sessions that were just focused on worldbuilding or character creation or exploring how characters interact with each other. That said, my personal preference is often for a strong narrative arc with a clear resolution and I often find this type of play unsupported.
Second caveat – I’m most focused on indie tabletop games and especially GMless games. Traditional games (like D&D) have plenty of pre-written adventures or rely on a GM to push the story forward.
I’d love to see a new category of game supplements: Plot Guides. These would walk players through a single session of the base game that hits specific narrative beats and tells a complete story.
Ideally these Guides would include:
I’ve just released my first Plot Guide: Save The Galaxy. It’s a supplement for Riley Rethal’s game Galactic 2e. Save the Galaxy guides the players through telling a tightly plotted one shot where a group of heroes foil a dastardly plot by The Mandate (an analog to The Empire in Star Wars).
Galactic 2e is a Belonging Outside Belonging (BoB) game that is heavily inspired by Star Wars. Like other BoB games, there’s no facilitator or dice rolling. Players share responsibility for representing the different elements of the setting in play, as well as the actions of the non-player characters.
Galactic does a great job of supporting character creation and character arcs, through evocative character sheets and moves (actions). However, there isn’t direct support for telling tightly plotted single-session stories – and that’s not the game’s intention.
With Save the Galaxy, my aim is to help any group of players take the strong character sheets and setting pillars from the Galactic Playkit and quickly tell a story with a complete narrative arc. It’s free and only three pages, so I recommend you give it a quick look!
Here’s a breakdown of what’s in it:
And that’s all! My hope is that it’s easy to use at the table and provides plenty of structure without being too constricting. If you end up trying it out, I’d love to hear how it goes.
I’d love to see a wave of Plot Guides made for a diverse array of games. I could see them working well for a number of systems beyond Belonging Outside Belonging and they could work well in games with facilitators, too.
I’ve licensed Save the Galaxy under a Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0 license which means you can share and remix as much as you’d like. I think there’s room for plenty of other Star Wars inspired story arcs beyond the one I created and I’d love to see what you come up with.
If you hack Save the Galaxy or make your own Plot Guides from scratch, let me know; I’d love to hear about it!
For a while, I was seeing plenty of adventure starters for Dungeon World, which would give a GM lots of fodder to start a session but not too much support toward finishing one. Dragonslaying on a Timetable is probably the closest I’ve seen to a plot guide and it definitely influenced my design of Save the Galaxy.
Larp, in general, is great for tightly plotted one shots. My own game Behind the Magic even has three acts with scene lists for each. There’s so much tabletop games can learn from larp and I’m excited to see more inspirations from larp show up in tabletop.
...and you can use a little something called GoFullPage (on Chrome or Edge) to take a screenshot of your entire questionnaire 😏 for safekeeping
Went to Half Moon Bay to visit family today and had a great time. Of course I brought a yo-yo.The yo-yo I’m using in that video is a Day Tripper, which will be available on DoctorPopular.com this Tuesday, June 15th, at 9am PDT. It’s an incredible slimline responsive yo-yo. Day Tripper
I’ve just released a plot guide for Galactic 2e called Save the Galaxy!
The guide walks you through your session from character creation to the final epilogue and helps you tell fast paced, tightly plotted, single-session adventures.
Save the Galaxy starts with a quick script for creating characters and establishing the main threat / antagonist. You’ll make a version of a Star Wars opening crawl that you’ll read as the story begins
The main story plays out in three acts, each of which are set in a different location. In each act you’ll pick scenes from a list and advance the plot. In between acts, you’ll get to know the characters better as they spend time together in hyperspace.
I was inspired to design this because I love the GMless and character focused approach of Belonging Outside Belonging games but I yearn for more plot scaffolding to help tell fast paced, single-session stories.
I’ve released Save the Galaxy under a CC-BY license and I’d love to see folks make guides for other types of stories for Galactic and to see this approach ported to other Belonging Outside Belonging games. I’ve included the .afpub file for easy remixing.
Let me know what you think and I’d love to hear if you have a chance to play it or remix it!
Today I stumbled on the Juan Vizcarra’s (aka Blind Cherub) twitter page and spent some time looking through their 1-bit style art. There are lots of great pieces there, but one that really caught my eye was a looping animation created to accompany “Valkyrie“, a great song off of Cara Neir’s Phase Out.
“1-bit animation for our song Valkyrie. Track 4 from Phase Out. Animation by Juan Vizcarra. In our lore, Valkyrie is one of the subservient mini-bosses to The One From Trimjrtle. She wields an ancient spear that emits blasts of blinding energy. She has slain many warriors in The One’s trials before, but perhaps she will meet her match one day as she awaits our arrival.”from the youtube description
Cara Neir also commissioned other artists to create short animations that go with the rest of the songs from their newest album, Phase Out. You can buy the album here or watch the full playlist on Youtube here.Phase Out by Cara Neir
The post Blind Cherub’s 1-bit art for Cara Neir’s “Valkyrie” appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.
This month was 5A May, the time of the year where yo-yoers celebrate the wonders of using a yo-yo with a counterweight attached to the end. I released a special episode of my PopCast yo-yo vlog, a 3D file for a counterweight, and a bunch of videos on Instagram, but I also took part in a “battle” with Ed Haponik on a livestreaming app call Livee.
Ed and I both competed using responsive yo-yos with counterweights attached to them. The crowd voted and I won! It was great to chat with Ed afterwards and I’ve been really stoked to see how quickly he’s learned 5A and carved out his own unique style.
You can watch the video here.
A few months back I wrote all about the ‘Future of Money’ game that I designed with The Copia Institute and that we ran at MozFest. Now we have lots more to share, with the game renamed to Money City.
We’ve now released all of the materials from the game under a CC-BY license and created a Facilitators Guide so that anyone can run it. Check out the guide and resources in the Money City playkit folder.
We’ve also created recaps of how the three sessions went at Mozfest. You can read those in the Money City recap folder.
You can check out a podcast of Mike and I talking about designing the game with Chris and Erika from Grant for the Web (our sponsors): https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20210601/12082146907/techdirt-podcast-episode-285-welcome-to-money-city.shtml
Interested in having us host a game for your organization, or in commissioning a game? Reach out: firstname.lastname@example.orgA few months back I wrote all about the ‘Future of Money’ game that I designed with The Copia Institute and that we ran at MozFest. Now we have lots more to share, with the game renamed to Money City.
I can't read or understand Japanese, so this is a completely Google Translate-assisted convo: he asks if I remember the song, and I reply of course, and with a video I found on YouTube
The Terrorizers is currently available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime, which is incredible to me given how rare this movie once was.